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6 Steps Women Can Take to Bridge the Gender Retirement Savings Gap

The latest Transamerica Retirement Survey in 2016 found that women save significantly less for retirement . . . a lot less, than men. The survey found women have a median of $34,000 in household retirement savings (the same as in 2012), while men boast a whopping $115,000 (up from $50,000 in 2012.) We need to change this.

This gap can have a huge effect on when and how women retire, and what their quality of life will be in retirement. So why the gap? Men have prioritized retirement savings, while women have prioritized family--by focusing on basic living expenses. Of course the difference in gender pay doesn't help with women earning 79 cents on average to the men's dollar. But that too is changing. Also, women typically put in less time in the workforce overall than men, taking out chunks of time for maternity leave, and caring for children or an aging family member also tends to fall on women's shoulders. This loss of time in the work place results in lost wages, lost retirement savings, lost time contributing to social security, etc.

The good news? Times are changing, and a majority of women are now responsible for their families finances, and what you don't know, you can learn. To help you jump start your effort, here are 6 steps women can take to bridge the retirement savings gap:

1) Participate in your workplace retirement plan

If your employer offers an employee retirement plan or 401(k), participate in it! If you end up working part-time due to maternity leave, child care, or the need to care for an aging family member, don't stop saving. If you are unable to participate in the plan due to your reduced hours, open an IRA and make the maximum contributions each year. If you're 50 or older, you can make catch up contributions that can help beef up your savings.

2) Automate and increase contributions

If your contributions to your employee retirement plan are matched by your employer, contribute up to your company match, because that's free money! Consider increasing the percentage of your salary that you invest or set aside each month, and putting it on auto increase. This way the amount you contribute will increase by 1% annually. It's important to make yourself and your future a priority, and the more that you automate the "saving" process, the easier it will be for you. Make yourself, and your future a priority by automating the process to ensure it happens.

3) Little known alternative for high income earners

With IRA's you're strictly capped off at the amount of money you're able to contribute each year for retirement. And what if you have a high income? You're either highly restricted or completely prohibited if your income is beyond a certain level. This can make accumulating a nest egg very difficult. Plus if you want to take a distribution before one of several "triggering" events such as the age of 59 and a half, certain benefits of the IRA can be lost. Cash value life insurance comes without these limitations. It does take time for the cash value in the policy to build, but this is a great option that is worth looking into if you have a higher income and want to stash away more than the limited amount that an IRA allows every year.

4) Learn more about investing for retirement

The best way to learn is by doing. If investing is foreign to you, there are multiple ways to learn. Open a brokerage account, and start with a small investment to get a feel for how it works. Seek out financial workshops, and read books on the subject. When you're younger, you're concentrating on building wealth, and saving for retirement. You can afford to be a little more aggressive with investing. But as you get older and approach retirement your focus needs to change to conserving and protecting, and you no longer want to take big risks.

5) Figure out how much you need to retire

Retirement looks different for everyone. What type of lifestyle do you want to have? Do you want to be able to travel regularly? Focus on hobbies that you never had the time to do when you were working? Spend time with family? That "picture" of retirement will be different for everyone, and therefor, the amount of money you'll need to make that happen will also differ. If you don't know what your goal is, your chances of hitting that goal is very low.

6) Talk to those around you

One incredible source of experience and wisdom is the people around you. We are all surrounded by women who have varied life experiences and lessons learned. Whether they're widowed, divorced, or retired, there is bound to be many "I wish I had known . . ." lessons, and unique and varied strategies for successfully saving for retirement.

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Women deserve to have secure, comfortable retirements, and closing the gap is necessary to making that happen. Know what you want, and work with professionals who will help you make it happen.

Call Tenaya Insurance Services at (925) 322-8073 today!

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